NCAA Saturday Afternoon Basketball: Villanova/Creighton Preview

by Big Al Staff

A heavyweight showdown between two nationally-ranked teams from the Big East tips off at 5 PM ET on Fox.

Villanova improved to 13-2 on Wednesday in a 96-64 blowout victory at home against Marquette as an 11-point favorite. Head coach Jay Wright’s team shot 70% in the second half for 56 points to cruise to the win. The Wildcats are 8-1 in Big East play while ranking fifth nationally by the Associated Press. Wright had seen eight games postponed this season, including six straight during a COVID pause in late December through mid-January.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl scored a career-high 27 points while adding eight rebounds and three steals. The sophomore forward leads the team with a 16.1 points-per-game scoring average and a 7.3 rebounds-per-game mark. Collin Gillespie added 16 points with 11 assists for his third-career double-double. The senior point guard is second on the team with a 14.5 points-per-game scoring average, and he is also averaging 5.2 assists-per-game. Villanova has a balanced attack with five players averaging at least 11.1 points-per-game, and all five starters scored in double-digits against the Golden Eagles.

The Wildcats rank fifth in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom, and they make 38.7% of their shots from 3-point land, 15th nationally. They also only turn the ball over in 13.6% of their possessions, third nationally. Villanova is 29th in adjusted defensive efficiency at kenpom. They lead the Big East with a defensive turnover rate of 21.8%.

Villanova’s two losses this season were against St. John’s and Virginia Tech in overtime in non-conference play. Their two most impressive victories have been against Texas and Seton Hall.

Creighton won for the fifth time in their last six games on Tuesday with a 63-48 triumph at Georgetown as a 7.5-point favorite. The Bluejays’ defense shined with a program-record 19 steals. They held the Hoyas to 27.6% shooting, with the 48 points allowed being the fewest points they gave up against a power five conference opponent since 2012.

Christian Bishop led the team with 17 points. The junior forward is fourth on the team with an 11.6 points-per-game scoring average. Bishop is listed as questionable today with an undisclosed issue. Denzel Mathews leads the team with a 14.5 points-per-game scoring average. Head coach Greg McDermott has five Creighton players average at least 10.4 points-per-game.

The Bluejays rank 19th in the nation in the Associated Press poll with a 15-5 record. They are 11-4 in Big East play with two victories apiece against Seton Hall and UConn. Their five losses were a one-point setback to Kansas and losses to Marquette, Providence, Butler, and Georgetown in conference play.

Creighton ranks 17th in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency at kenpom. They are 9th with a 57.5% shooting percentage inside the arc, and they rank 62nd with a 36.3% shooting clip from 3-point land. Their 56.2% effective field goal percentage is 10th best nationally. The Bluejays are also playing strong fundamental defense. They are limiting their opponents to just a 44.6% shooting percentage inside the arc, 26th nationally. They rank 40th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency using the metrics at kenpom.

This showdown is the first meeting between these two teams this season. BetAnySports lists Villanova as a 2.5-point road favorite with the total set at 144.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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